Make Lee Green and Croydon Committee Review of LTN

It has come to my attention that a leaflet has been circulated in Lewisham by an organisation (or one person) called “Make Lee Green”. It argues that Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) are a big part of the solution to make “A safer, healthier, more sustainable Lewisham”. It then quotes some very selective and misleading statistics.

For example it says “80% of journeys in London will be made by foot, bike or public transport by 2041”. That may be the Mayor of London’s objectives as published in his Mayor’s Transport Strategy a couple of year’s ago but the chance of this happening is very low. The recent trends tell us that the Mayor is nowhere near on target to achieve that. For outer London boroughs it is very unlikely to be met. For example, for the whole of London, before the pandemic hit, the figure was just over 60% but with lockdown measures continuing, the overall “active, efficient and sustainable” mode share – public transport, walking and cycling – could in fact be “the lowest seen in London since the early 2000’s, and not be back at 2019 levels until well into 2021″, the latest report concludes (see links below).

A lot of the journeys are by bus and how are buses more sustainable than cars? They are not, and bus users are not participating in active travel and neither are they necessarily “efficient” if people have to go on round about routes to reach their destinations.

Overall traffic volumes have actually been falling in London in recent years, particularly car trips, but LGV and PHV trips have increased as more people use internet shopping and more people use services such as Uber. These both tend to be trips on minor roads to access local premises and homes, but LTNs do not remove those trips.

So who is publishing and circulating these misleading Make Lee Green leaflets? There is no name and address on the leaflet and neither is there any on their associated web site, where they are even using a proxy service to conceal the identity of the web site owners. In summary the leaflets are simply a piece of distorted propaganda from someone who prefers to remain anonymous. Is it more than one person? We should be told.

OnLondon Travel Report: https://www.onlondon.co.uk/latest-travel-in-london-report-details-extent-of-covids-impact-on-capitals-transport/

Travel in London Survey: https://abdlondon.wordpress.com/2019/12/27/travel-in-london-survey-how-its-being-made-more-difficult/

Croydon Committee Review of LTN

I mentioned previously the report on the LTN in the Crystal Palace and South Norwood area of Croydon. It was discussed by the Traffic Management Advisory Committee last night (12/1/2021). Ian Plowright, Head of Transport, gave a very misleading summary of the report and the new proposals to convert the LTN to an “experimental” scheme using ANPR cameras to enforce. Eliska Finlay, representing “Open our roads” gave a good speech in support of scrapping the LTN altogether (see https://webcasting.croydon.gov.uk/meetings/11439 for a recording of the meeting).

The views of committee members were 2 in support of the ANPR scheme but 3 were against. It will now depend on decisions by the Chair of the Committee and others. But there is a good chance the whole scheme will be abandoned. That is particularly bearing in mind that the funding of an ANPR scheme will require approval of funding by both TfL and the DfT which may not be forthcoming.

In summary this was an ill-conceived scheme which has had very negative consequences for residents of that part of Croydon but also in neighbouring boroughs, particularly Bromley. It should be scrapped as soon as possible.

The public survey responses were quite clear. The LTN scheme in Croydon is not wanted. No doubt Lewisham residents would say the same thing if they were asked about their LTN, as would residents in other London boroughs who have been suffering the consequences of these ill-thought out schemes.

Roger Lawson

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How Many Objections has Lewisham Council Received to the LTNs? They Claim Not to Know.

How many objections has the London Borough of Lewisham received to the road closures and other aspects of the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in the borough? Nobody knows apparently.

We submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOI) request in early November in which we asked for the numbers and have finally received a response. That’s way past the legal limit for responses for which they have apologised. But they now claim they have no information on the subject.

I consider their response to be disgraceful.

I specifically worded my request so that they could give estimates of the number of objections if exact figures were not available.

But it is clearly a nonsense when the Council invites people to send comments to traffic@lewisham.gov.uk about the LTNs but does not record how many of the comments received are objections. Even if not recorded at the time there is nothing stopping them from reviewing past comments received by council officers and councillors. The number of objections received is clearly vital information when the Council is considering the impact of the Temporary Traffic Orders used to implement the LTNs and I simply do not believe that the Council has no information on this subject.

I believe they are deliberately trying to avoid responding to my FOI request. Just like Mayor Damien Egan did in reply to a similar question in a Council Meeting.

It would seem that Councillors and Council staff are deliberately trying to conceal vital information from the public on this issue, when we know that there have clearly been a very large number of objections – for example we have collected over 12,000 signatures on a petition requesting removal of the road closures.

Councillors are turning a deaf ear to complaints in the hope that people will come to accept the LTNs. But they will not.

Our complaint about the failure to respond to the FOI Act request will be pursued further.

Roger Lawson

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Croydon LTN Supported by Council Despite Overwhelming Public Opposition

Croydon Council introduced a Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) in the Crystal Palace and South Norwood areas using Temporary Traffic Orders a few months ago. In included road closures on such roads as Auckland Road (see photo above). The closures generated a very large number of complaints about increased traffic congestion and generally making life more difficult for residents including opposition from the neighbouring borough of Bromley into which traffic was diverted. A campaign group called “Open Our Roads” was formed to oppose the closures (see https://abdlondon.wordpress.com/2020/10/18/crystal-palace-campaign-against-road-closures/ ).

Croydon Council have undertaken a public consultation on the LTN and produced a report on the survey results. This will now be considered by a Traffic Management Advisory Committee on the 12th January. See link before for the report. It’s 370 pages long so here are some key points to note from it:

  1. They propose to remove the measures implementing the LTN but propose to replace them with a scheme based on an Experimental Traffic Order. This will include a number of road closures enforced by ANPR cameras from which they will no doubt generate considerable revenue, although there will be some exemptions for local residents. Note that in December Croydon effectively declared bankruptcy by issuing a Section 114 notice due to financial mismanagement over several years by the ruling Labour administration. They are desperate to raise income it seems.
  • These proposals are being made despite 75% of residents within the LTN area opposing the retention of the scheme and 62% opposing the introduction of an ANPR scheme. Some 61% want the scheme removed altogether with only 23% opposing – these are very decisive numbers for any public survey and do not even include responses from those living outside the LTN who responded.
  • There was very decisive opposition from areas such as SE19, SE20, SE25 and within Bromley.
  • Journey times in areas such as the Crystal Palace Triangle showed “moderate to significant” increases in peak periods, with a “serious” increase in the PM peak.

The proposal to retain any part of the LTN scheme is clearly totally undemocratic. They argue that the survey done was not a “truly representative picture of local views” which is surely nonsense. It is certainly no justification for continuing with the LTN and imposing an Experimental Traffic Order.

Will Councillors do what their residents want or ignore them in the name of pursuing a response to the “Climate Emergency” they have declared? We will soon see. But they should bear in mind that there is no evidence that LTNs create any overall benefits in terms of air pollution because it often just means drivers have to drive further to get to their chosen destinations and sit in traffic jams for longer.

Unfortunately Croydon is one those London Councils where Councillors decisions are apparently driven by dogma and not by logic.

Report to Traffic Management Committee: https://tinyurl.com/y57nbcse

Daily Telegraph Report: https://tinyurl.com/y53xcf4t

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Press Release: Growing Opposition to Road Closures

The ABD has issued the following press release:

Opposition to road closures, particularly in London, has been growing. Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) have proved to be anything but and have worsened traffic congestion in the City.

A number of grass-roots campaign groups have sprung into existence to oppose these measures in boroughs such as Lewisham, Lambeth, Islington, Croydon, Ealing, Waltham Forest and several others – see this web page for a list of those known to the ABD:  https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/london-road-closures.htm

They typically have collected thousands of signatures opposing the road closures, and two of them (Croydon and Ealing) have already filed for Judicial Reviews in the High Court.

They have also run public street demonstrations despite the current Covid-19 restrictions which shows the strength of feeling against these schemes.

For example, the ABD has been actively supporting a campaign by local residents in Lewisham where nearly 12,000 people have signed a petition asking for removal of the road closures and proper public consultation on them. The lack of public consultation using the Covid-19 as a spurious excuse has what has particularly angered residents.

You can read more about the Lewisham campaign here: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/lewisham.htm and the many irate comments we have received from residents here: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Lewisham-Comments-Received.pdf

ABD Campaign Director has commented: “The road closures have been justified on environmental grounds but in reality the closures have meant people have simply driven around them on main roads this emitting more air pollution and damaging the health of people who live on those roads. There has been no modal shift as few people are willing to take up cycling and they have been avoiding public transport during the epidemic. The advocates of these schemes might have had the best of intentions but they have been shown to be abject failures. The dogma that promoted these schemes is still being actively promoted with claims such that traffic will evaporate if roads are closed. But it does not.

Democracy has been thrown out of the window as local councils impose these schemes on the electorate without consultation. Some have backed down and withdrawn the closures but most boroughs are persisting while the Government and TfL support them with new “guidance” and funding. I suggest London boroughs need to listen to their electorate a lot more if they don’t wish to see a political revolution”.

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Croydon Streetspace Consultation

The London Borough of Croydon has launched a public consultation on their “Streetspace” proposals. Namely the road closures that have hit residents in the Crystal Palace and South Norwood areas under the guise of a “Low Traffic Neighbourhood” when it has been anything but that. Traffic congestion has been horrendous and has even impacted roads in the adjacent borough of Bromley.

They are also consulting on Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes in Broad Green and Albert Road with the former including a permit scheme for residents. There are also proposals for the Town Centre.

See https://new.croydon.gov.uk/croydon-streetspace for details – see bottom right for an open on-line consultation on the Crystal Palace and South Norwood scheme. This is the opportunity to have your say so please complete it!

These measures are claimed to be temporary but if the Council gets enough support they will undoubtedly make them permanent in due course. There is an active campaign against the closures under the name “Open Our Roads” who have already filed for a judicial review of the Council’s actions.

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Redbridge Removes Road Closures

The London Borough of Redbridge has abandoned its “Quiet Streets” scheme (a Low Traffic Neighbourhood enforced by “planters” that block the roads). It is to open up the roads. This is after numerous complaints from residents.

This is what Council Leader Jas Athwal had to say: “Many local people have reached out to me directly about the recent Quiet Streets pilots in Barkingside South and Cranbrook West. It is clear that residents have genuine concerns about the schemes. Although we have received some positive comments and significant support for the scheme’s principles, including reducing air pollution and making our roads safer, the overwhelming response has been to ask us to reverse the changes, and we are listening”.  See more here: https://www.redbridge.gov.uk/news/october-2020/redbridge-council-statement-quiet-streets/

Comment: Councillor Jas Athwal and his colleagues are to be commended for their quick and decisive action on this matter. It is very unfortunate that the Government encouraged such schemes and that the anti-car factions have taken such a hold of many local councils, particularly in London.

The use of the Covid-19 epidemic to rush in such schemes without prior public consultation is an absolute disgrace and should not have been permitted in a democratic society. It is very clear that the residents of most London boroughs do not support such schemes and the implementation of such schemes is counterproductive to improving the environment.

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Crystal Palace Campaign Against Road Closures

Above is the logo of a campaign against road closures in the Crystal Palace and Norwood areas of the London Borough of Croydon. Below is a note published by the campaign:

Who are we?

Open Our Roads is a grassroots campaign of concerned citizens working to ensure the residents, traders and visitors of Crystal Palace, Upper Norwood and South Norwood have fair and equal access to all public highways in the area. We stand for inclusive design, community cohesion and accountable governance.

What do we want?

Open roads: Fair and equal access for all road users to all of the local area’s public highways. The first step is removing all road barriers, re-opening our roads and eliminating unnecessary congestion from our main roads.

Clean air: Sustained and continuous improvement to the local air quality, especially on main roads where levels have been measured to be above the legal limits allowed.

Thriving town centres: The best possible conditions for our local businesses and traders to flourish during and after the pandemic while maintaining the unique character of our neighbourhoods.

Meaningful engagement: Proper consultation with all residents, businesses, road users, stakeholders and any person or organisation who will be impacted by significant changes to our local road network.

Evidenced-based policy: Data and evidence that leads to the most effective solutions and best practice policy addressing the community’s most pressing challenges.

Inclusive design: Ensuring our most vulnerable neighbours have access to the services and activities necessary for active participation in our community.

How can you help?

Donate: Help us fight Croydon Council’s badly-planned and ineffective Low Traffic Neighbourhood. With your funds we will continue to apply pressure both publically and legally on the decision makers of this scheme. 

www.crowdfunder.co.uk/open-our-roads   

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Note that the adjoining Borough of Bromley has objected to the Croydon closures because of the impact of the closures on their residents. They have been threatening legal action because of the lack of consultation. See this article for more explanation: https://newsfromcrystalpalace.wordpress.com/2020/08/17/bromley-council-threaten-legal-action-against-croydon-over-roadblocks-leader-says-they-will-have-the-barriers-removed-by-order-if-common-sense-isnt-deployed-and-their-street-paraphernalia-removed/

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Grant Shapps Changes Stance

I have been spending a lot of time on the ABD’s campaign against road closures in Lewisham and other London boroughs over the last few months. It has just achieved some success as Lewisham Council announced a reopening of some roads on Friday. But not enough to appease the complainants, and not enough I think to stop the traffic congestion on many roads.

Part of the problem has been the encouragement by Central Government for road closures and cycle lanes, and funding to assist, as promulgated by Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary.

A Parliamentary e-petition on the subject has already collected near 20,000 signatures in a few days, with some help from the ABD. See https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/552306 . Please sign it and get your friends and relations to do so. And write to your member of Parliament on the Subject.

But it seems the worm is turning as the Daily Telegraph reported the following: “A letter, sent on Friday to local authority transport bosses and local highways authorities and seen by The Telegraph, warns how a ‘notable number of councils used their funding poorly and were simply out of step with the needs of the local communities’. Mr Shapps also said: ‘I saw or heard from the public and parliamentary colleagues about far too many instances where temporary cycles lanes were unused due to their location and design, while their creation left motor traffic backed up alongside them; of wide pavements causing unnecessary congestion in town centres; and other issues that many have, rightly, reacted angrily to.’

He explains how he had ordered his staff to “engage” with those councils where he had ‘concerns’, because badly thought out road closures and cycle lanes had been introduced.

‘Since then, numerous schemes have been scaled back and revised,’ he wrote. ‘I am pleased with this, but the work will continue where local residents continue to have concerns.’

He warns the second round of funding in the scheme could see some town halls receiving ‘considerably less’ money if they fail to ‘embrace good design’ or ‘consult their local communities’.”

Let us hope there is real change but I suspect Lewisham and some other dogma driven London Councils will continue to pursue irrational policies so the fight for sensible measures with democratic input will have to continue.

Photo above is of the demonstration on Saturday against the road closures in Lewisham – no doubt more would have attended if it had not been an illegal event. Video present here: https://youtu.be/cqW2hBfK7k0

Roger Lawson

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Lewisham Backtracking on Road Closures

Lewisham Council have made an announcement concerning their Low Traffic Neighbourhood in Lee Green which has caused so much anger among residents. They have not conceded defeat but instead come up with a half-baked compromise that will only pacify a few people. Some roads are re-opened or made one-way but roads such as Upwood Road will remain closed. It also mentions plans for more “School Streets” (i.e. timed road closures) and longer-term changes for the Hither Green and Catford areas in 2021. The exclusion of HGVs from some of the roads may undoubtedly be welcomed by many people however.

You can read the details here: https://lewishamcovidresidentialstreets.commonplace.is/news/2020/10/16/changes-to-lewisham-and-lee-green-low-traffic-neighbourhood-announced? See Map below also.

It’s actually very difficult to understand the logic behind these changes as some local residents will find their journey’s improved while others will not. It is also not at all clear that it will substantially relieve the extra traffic loads on the main roads such as the South Circular.

They claim these changes are the result of “what the local community has told us” but as there has been no formal consultation process or surveys performed they are likely to have only listened to a very selective audience.

These changes are due to be implemented in the week commencing the 9th November when there will no doubt be another bout of confusion on which routes are permitted.

The group of local residents who oppose the road closures, which is supported by the ABD and which now has support from over 10,000 people, will wait to hear your comments before commenting further. Please let us have them.

Note that there is a webinar meeting hosted by Mayor Damien Egan for local residents on the 22ndOctober at 7.00 pm which you can register for here: https://consultation.lewisham.gov.uk/highways-and-transport/lewisham-and-lee-green-ltn/

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New Parliamentary Petition: Remove Guidance and Funding for Temporary Traffic Measures That Cause Congestion

A new parliamentary petition has been registered calling for the removal of recent temporary traffic measures that are creating congestion such as on Hammersmith Road above and all over London (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/552306 ). The full text of the petition adds:

“Road closures, ‘school streets’ and new cycle lanes are creating severe congestion, long traffic delays and severe frustration across the country. Although well intentioned, the experiment has failed. Government guidance supporting such measures, and funds for them, should be withdrawn immediately.

Many councils have introduced schemes touted as encouraging walking and cycling, but their real impact is gridlock. They’ve been built without proper consultation, illegitimately justified by the Covid crisis and backed by central government direction and finance.

Congestion and pollution have increased, people are inconvenienced, local businesses have lost trade and lives jeopardised with emergency vehicles stuck in traffic. Cycle tracks are often empty, while the roads alongside are jammed.”

The promoters of the petition acknowledge that the experiment was well-intentioned; but it is now clear that the temporary traffic measures are doing much more harm than good; and they need to be removed immediately to improve the travelling experience for the vast majority of road users.

Counterproductive schemes include: road closure and narrowing in Lewisham, Islington and other London boroughs, an epidemic of temporary cycle tracks and various schemes in Bradford-on-Avon, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Chester, Colchester, Derby, Edinburgh, Harleston, Manchester, Oxford and York, with others being planned.

David Tarsh, who posted the petition, said: “Where I live, the temporary cycle lanes around Hammersmith are a source of huge frustration. The traffic is frequently gridlocked whilst the cycle lanes alongside are often empty. They are dangerous; several people have complained about near misses at junctions and many experienced cyclists won’t use them as they feel the road is safer. Ambulances on emergency calls have been badly delayed and they are causing unnecessary pollution because crawling traffic is more polluting than flowing traffic. Worst of all, despite clear evidence now that they do more harm than good, our council wants to make them permanent!”

Roger Lawson, Campaign Director for the Alliance of British Drivers, had this to say: “We welcome this petition. It has been most unfortunate that central Government has supported these irrational measures and permitted some local councils who have an anti-car stance to introduce schemes without public consultation that have increased traffic congestion, increased air pollution, blocked emergency services and increased journey times for all. The sooner these schemes are abandoned, and we can return to normal, the better. The opposition to such schemes, particularly to road closures, as we saw in Lewisham where we are supporting a campaign by local residents against them, is enormous while local councillors just ignore the complaints”.

PLEASE SIGN THIS VERY IMPORTANT PETITION

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/552306

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